Factory workers across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire say they have been forced to go into work – despite the country going into lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.
A number of concerned employees have contacted StokeonTrentLive to say companies across the area are flouting strict rules on ‘essential working’.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that only ‘key’ workers should be going to work with everyone else ordered to stay at home.
But some staff say their employers are ‘bending’ the definition of what qualifies as an ‘essential service’ needed to keep the country running.
They now fear their lives are being put at risk as they are unable to stick to the Government’s social distancing guidelines of maintaining a two metre distance from colleagues.
In an anonymous tip-off, one worried factory worker said: “We are all very concerned that our bosses are not taking how we feel about the current climate seriously.
“We have asked the question about whether we really are a necessity workplace but they aren’t interested.
“We are all working in close proximity of each other but we need to stay at home. It seems to me they are more interested in profit than saving lives.”
Another woman who works for the same firm added: “The factory is currently still open, leaving employees scared, frustrated and angry.
“The CEO has visited the different departments telling employees that they are staying open.
“The company is exploiting employees’ need for money as they are telling staff you can self isolate but you will not get paid.”
Another Stoke-on-Trent worker said: “We are being told to work as normal. How totally ignorant and stupid are the management?
“They are showing an absolute disregard for the well-being and safety of their workers. I am totally disgusted and angry by the actions of this company. They are putting money before the safety of people.”
A woman who works in a Stoke-on-Trent-based contact centre with around 250 people also claimed they were being made to go in.
She said: “Two metre social distancing cannot possibly be observed – the windows can barely be opened and it’s a true breeding ground for disease.
“One employee who has a seriously-ill husband at home had to leave yesterday as she was forbidden from wearing a protective face mask.
“The company is arguing under Financial Conduct Authority rules they are classed as ‘essential’ and can therefore remain open but the work we do is not essential at a time like this?
“They are throwing their employees and the people of the city under the bus by exploiting loopholes and not acting cautiously enough.
“It is possible for us to work from home but the vast majority of us are being required to show up to the office.”